The following is a transcript of an interview with White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond that aired Sunday, June 27, 2021, on “Face the Nation.”
JOHN DICKERSON: We go now to the senior adviser to the president, Cedric Richmond. Good morning, Mr. Richmond. I want to start with that awful condominium collapse. The FEMA director is going down to Miami. What more can the administration do? And is the president making preparations to pay a visit to the area?
WH SENIOR ADVISOR CEDRIC RICHMOND: The short answer is it’s a tragedy. We’re monitoring it very, very closely and also we’re going to do anything and everything that we can to assist. And so we signed the emergency declaration of the president, signed the emergency declaration as soon as he got it. The FEMA director is going down to make sure that our federal assets are helping and that we’re doing everything possible to help.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me move on to the president’s infrastructure plan, a part of his American jobs plan. He- he came out in support of a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Then he seemed to tie it- he didn’t seem to, he tied it to a larger trillion dollar spending package. That angered some of the Republicans he had been negotiating with yesterday. He put out a statement that seemed to walk that back. Where are we with this?
RICHMOND: The president expects to fulfill his promise to the American people, which started with the American Rescue Plan, which we passed. We’re winning on vaccinations. We’re bringing the economy back. Growth is up, unemployment is down. Then we wanted to pass an infrastructure bill and we did. We- we came to an agreement on a historic infrastructure deal and then we’re going to pass the families plan. And so the president yesterday was bringing the focus back to the fact that there are 10 million homes in this country with lead pipes, 400,000 schools with lead pipes, bridges that are collapsing, and back to the historic nature of the deal–
JOHN DICKERSON: But–
RICHMOND: –that was struck with Republicans. And I think that an important part of this is to say where Democrats and Republicans can agree, we should agree, move on, create progress for the American people. And where we don’t agree, we can fight and we can fight hard. And that’s what we expect to do on American Families Plan. But we also expect to win.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you this. As historic as it may be, it won’t be historic if it doesn’t pass. So the politics here- here matter. Are the Republicans back on track and do you think you’ll get 60 Republican votes for this infrastructure package?
RICHMOND: We would hope to get more than 60 votes for this package because of all of the things that it does and the needs in the country. And so what we’re hearing and even some of the interviews I’ve seen on TV, Republicans are standing by the deal. The president’s going to honor his word and we’re going to hope that they’re going to honor their word. But we would hope that more come along, because this is historic. It is important. We have crumbling bridges and roads all around this country and we have to do something about it.
JOHN DICKERSON: And it seems like the president has a bump in the rug problem. You push the bump in the rug down in one place and it shows up somewhere else. He’s got the Republicans back on track that he worked with. But his problem now is liberals in his own party. They want a commitment from the president that the environmental protections, child care, all the things that were a part of his original infrastructure package are going to get a fair hearing. And they’re worried that it won’t. So Democrats may not vote for this infrastructure bill or are they all set and ready to vote for it?
RICHMOND: I think that you’re going to see overwhelming Democratic support for a bill that removes lead pipes, that invests in electric buses, electric vehicle charging stations, a clean energy power grid. All of those things are historic in nature and widely supported by Democrats and supported by Republicans also. And we think that Democrats are going to vote for it. But the budget resolution will be crafted in the Senate and House of Representatives, and the process on it will be controlled by them.
JOHN DICKERSON: Here’s the problem, Mr. Richmond, those- those liberal Democrats are saying if I don’t get a promise now, what will happen is this negotiation will take place. And those environmental provisions that I care so much about will just get dealed away and they will have lost all of their leverage. And so–
RICHMOND: And I would–
JOHN DICKERSON: –that’s why the president was making the promise- to lock in his promise so that he would do what they want him to do, particularly on the environment.
RICHMOND: Well, I would remind you and those Democrats that the president has met all the challenges that he’s faced and he’s kept his promises from the American Rescue Plan to the infrastructure plan. And by the way, we put all of the green stuff in the legislation for the infrastructure bill. So whether it was the clean energy tax credit or some of the other things, we’re committed to it. It just now shifts over to the American Families Plan, along with the care economy and the education and all the other things we want to do. And we fully expect to get it passed. What people should stop doing is–
JOHN DICKERSON: So you- you think you can get every senate Democrat to vote for the infrastructure bill?
RICHMOND: Everything that we’ve done so far has come out the way the president has planned it, and I think that it’s very- it’s not wise to underestimate this president, his ability to bring people together, unify his party and move this country forward. And so he’s done that with everything he’s done so far. And we expect to do it with the American Families Plan also.
JOHN DICKERSON: Let me ask you about the announcement this- this week that the President made to take on rising gun crime. The President in his proposals this week said money that had been set aside for COVID relief could be used to hire more police. There’s been a big debate about defunding the police. It seems that the president’s decision rendered a verdict on that, that the solution is not getting rid of police officers, but hiring more of them.
RICHMOND: Well, the President said on the campaign trail that he wanted to give $300 million more dollars towards policing in this country. To one, for body cameras and technology, but two, he supports constitutional policing and better community policing so that the community and the police have a better relationship. But what we did here is make sure that cities understood that they could use the money that we sent them for state and local aid to replenish their police forces because a lot of them had to lay off, furlough police officers and other first responders because of the pandemic and the loss of revenue.
JOHN DICKERSON: All right, Mr. Richmond, I’m afraid we’re out of time. Thank you so much for being with us this morning. We’ll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. Stay with us.